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  Student Takes Hostages, Then Kills Himself

    CARO, Michigan

   Thursday - November 15, 2001

Let's Stop the violence! 

    See how KEYS can help!!

CARO, Mich. -  Chris M. Buschbacher, a 17 year old student at the Caro Learning Center, managed to walk into class with a .22 caliber rifle and a 20 gauge shotgun. He proceeded to take the teacher and another student hostage.


  "School Shooting Map

Buschbacher fired a shot at principal Erl Nordstrom inside the school, Caro Superintendent Dennis Anderson told The Bay City Times. Mr Nordstrom said the bullet "went right past his stomach, although he was not hit," Mr Anderson said.

Chris M. Buschbacher fired at least 2 shots during the hostages standoff. Negotiations with him lasted about 2:30ó6:00 PM. During the course of the afternoon, he exchanged the female student for a pack of cigarettes. About an hour and a half later he released the teacher then shot and killed himself as a SWAT team was preparing to enter the building. No motive was given, but speculation abounds that he was despondent over breaking up with his girl friend.

The teen had been attending the Learning Center for two years because of minor discipline problems in junior high school, according to Erl Nordstrom, the schoolís principal. ''He was very low-key. To be honest with you, I don't think I ever saw the kid smile. He was respectful. He always said, 'Hi,'''[Certification Training]

Mr. Nordstrom went on to say that one of the first questions he wants answered is, "How did those guns get into the school?" [Crisis Response Plan Training]

''We try to have things as secure as possible,'' a member of the school board told The Saginaw News. ''That's just a real hard call. What's warranted and what isn't? You always hope that there is not a need.'' [School Safety Site Assessment]

The alternative school is southwest of the village limits, on the campus of the Caro Regional Mental Health Center, a state-owned facility that provides residential treatment for mental health patients. Caro Community Schools rents the building from the state. About 110 teens from throughout Tuscola County attend the high school, most because of attendance or discipline problems. Thirty-nine adults attend an adult education program in the 10-room facility. Six teachers, the principal, secretary, custodian and aides were also in the building when the standoff started. The school was closed Tuesday. [Kids are the Keys Assembly]  (See the Lock Out Violence Everyday Campaign - A community violence prevention program).

Once again, we ask ourselves, "Could this have been avoided? Could it have been predicted?" Keys To Safer Schools.comís Assessment Tool and Certification Training may not have prevented this tragedy, but it can help schools identify trouble kids who need intervention. For more information on how your school can get involved in trying to find these troubled kids and get them help, contact KEYS by email or phone at the address and numbers below.


  • To Learn How "Keys To Safer Schools" Can Help.

  • Learning what to look for - "Early Warning Signs"

  • Map of School Shootings

  • Learn about National Reports on Violence

  • Reported By:
    Frank Green
    Keys To Safer

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